Qualitative Noun Question Finally Answered
Perhaps you’ve been following the saga of Sushibox and the Case of the Confusing Qualitative Noun in the comments section. I searched high and low, and could find only information on Greek grammar and theological concepts. I finally went to the experts at the Online Writing Lab at Purdue University, and posed Sushibox’s question to them. Below is their answer.
Purely Qualitative nouns are more of a Greek grammatical concept than an English one; however, our research confirms that this concept does carry over into English. The final example you give is not, as you note, qualitative because “angelic” is an adjective. However, certain nouns can be purely qualitative with linking verb constructions, for example, “love is war,” “war is hell,” “God is love,” etc. In all these examples, the predicative nominative defines the quality of the subject nominative, while still remaining as a noun grammatically and semantically. So, to answer your inquiry, there are a few nouns in English that can function purely qualitatively.